YouTube was created in 2005, but much like Google, it feels like it’s been around forever. We post our videos on YouTube, look for some silly entertainment during boring afternoons and send videos along to friends much like old ladies used to spread gossip around town not very long ago.
But should you be limited to YouTube? Let’s be honest, there is a whole world of streaming video online that most people have never seen because they have settled for YouTube. Most video sites have the same features, or features even better than YouTube has and some have a more specialized selection or much higher quality videos.
So here is a small sample of video sites you should check out that many people feel are better than YouTube.
Current TV is a website that is also a TV channel, but unlike all other tv sites, that post their content from tv on their video sites, Current plays the content from their website on TV. People post their videos, or pods, on the site which get voted by the community and the highest ranking ones get on their television channel. Current has an enticing variety of videos, but the heart of the site is its amazing independent journalism. On Current, you can see all the reports that usually don’t get on television, or a whole new approach to the news you do see. For video producers, it’s a chance to get your video on tv and a little bit of cash to go with it.
TED is unique in the world of streaming video, and it is brilliant in its own way. TED’s whole concept is to spread ideas, and to accomplish that, it has enlisted some of the most brilliant minds in the world to create “talks” about topics as diverse as Eve Ensler’s “Embrace your inner child”, Murray Gell-Mann’s ”Beauty and truth in physics” or Bill Gates’ “Mosquitos, malaria and education”. Better than YouTube in another way, the search on the site also works in an ingenious way, letting you search by keywords or by themes such as: inspiring, beautiful or fascinating. For those of us who are eternal students, TED is a jewel of endless facets.
Following a very similar style to TED, Big Think takes an interview approach to its video instead of a prepared talk. The result is a very interesting group of answers that make you feel like you actually got to ask a famous expert the question yourself and he had the kindness to reply. It’s not as evolved as TED is, but it is certainly biting at its heels.
If you think YouTube videos are funny, you’ve never visited Atom, previously Atom Films. With an enormous array of animations, comedy shorts and sketches, Atom hasn’t lost its edge after its acquisition by MTV. Because of its huge selection of talented filmmakers who normally contribute to the site and with their own staff filmmakers, who were selected from some of the funniest sites online, Atom manages to consistently have shorts that will lighten up the most boring of days.
Created on May 11, 2005, the same year as YouTube, Blip.tv has mimicked what network television channels offer but using the same resource Current TV uses: independent producers. It currently has about 48,000 independently produced Web shows and approximately 22,000,000 viewers. They share the revenue of their ads with the producers, which allows them to make some income from their shows and keep producing them and in exchange, Blip.tv gets a constant supply of episodes for their video site. So what can you find on Blip.tv? Mostly, the site consists of series of shows, much like television shows, with genres like dating, technology, animation and a diverse group of fiction stories.
Did you ever want to know how to photograph a red squirrel, how to reduce poverty in developing worlds or how to go geocaching with your kids? Well, you can find all of those answers and much, much more on 5min.com, the site that will try to teach you how to do almost anything in 5 minute videos.
WwiTV is more an aggregator than a video site, since it doesn’t store the videos itself, but merely points at videos in other sites. The reason it made this list is that it points at video channels from all over the world, so if you’d like to watch a soap opera from Azerbaijan or a music video from Vietnam, you can find it all on WwiTV. The quality is generally quite poor and the site itself is quite an eye sore, but where else would you find a North Korean video as top selection of the day followed closely by the Hellenic channel in Greece?
Television channels seem to have noticed that trying to keep their shows out of streaming video sites is a lost battle. Their response seems to be finding partners who will help them deliver the content in its entirety and in higher quality than the ripped versions of the videos while sharing the ad revenue. One of such partner sites is Hulu. It carries content from many tv channels at very high streaming quality. The one catch is that it doesn’t have international streaming rights for their content outside the USA, so it’s for an American audience only.
Since it was created by filmmakers, Vimeo shows a very holistic and welcoming approach to video sharing. Vimeo tends to attract more professional filmmakers than other sharing sites, the video tends to be higher quality and the design certainly beats YouTube’s messy look. The community projects and groups also make it easy to find videos of a particular topic or subject matter and with almost 3 million members and over 17000 videos uploaded daily, there is a lot to choose from.
The proposal of sites like Stickam is very innovative. Let the audience participate by streaming their own video live. For most part, it works in an exciting way. Some shows are scheduled and you can stream your own video as an audience member and talk to the hosts or video chat among other viewers. It’s like being part of a live audience and always carrying the mike. You can also watch pre-recorded shows and interviews.
The one issue is that for a large part of the day, the site seems to be inhabited by the people who are most at ease with webcams, young teenagers. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but if you are looking for some more experienced discussions you must select your live streams carefully.
The older, more mature version of Stickam, Ustream also allows people to create their own broadcasting channels and their own live shows. It does, though, carry live broadcasting from many mainstream media sites and it doesn’t allow people to join in with their video chats the way Stickam does, but it does have live text chat.
The topics tend to be more interesting than Stickam’s since it has a lot of contributions from professional journalists who decided to try the live interactive video format.
Why bother visiting a bunch of video sites looking for viral videos when you can find it all on one site? Boasting to be world’s largest video search engine with over 35 million hours of video from all major video sites, Blinx even claims to have indexed more media searches than Google. All you have to do is type in a keyword and you get results from major sites all at once.
There are literally thousands of streaming video sites to choose from, built just to entertain or inform you. Some are very niche, some copies of what we’ve already seen. The ones above are a taste of those I find myself checking out on a regular basis. What are your favorite ones and why?